A toast to specialty spirits
These spots are laser-focused on specialty spirits.
Without to-go options to fall back on, bars and cocktail lounges were hit, in some respects, the hardest by the pandemic. Yet the shutdowns didn't stifle creativity. Instead, as watering holes reopened this year, they boasted a laser-focused attention on specialty spirits.
At its soaring new northeast Minneapolis headquarters, Brother Justus Whiskey Co. introduced a first-of-its-kind whiskey that's been "cold peated." The process brings the terroir of Minnesota peat bogs into the glass, without the smoke found in similar peaty Scotches.
Another breathtaking new shrine to whiskey, this one in the Prospect Park neighborhood next door to Surly Brewing Co., came courtesy of O'Shaughnessy Distilling Co. Under the tutelage of master distiller Brian Nation, O'Shaughnessy is producing American whiskey Irish-style, in three eye-catching triple copper pots.
While it had barely opened its doors before the pandemic closed them, The Dampfwerk Distillery managed to amass a word-of-mouth following for its German-inspired spirits. Herbal, floral, spicy and surprising in cocktails, the spirits take center stage in Dampfwerk's handsomely appointed St. Louis Park cocktail lounge.
AxeBridge Wine Co. has transported the winemaking process from the vineyard to the city. Using grapes both locally grown and from the West Coast, the team behind Schram Vineyards in Waconia is producing wine among the high-rises and reclaimed warehouses of Minneapolis' North Loop.
Tucked into a hidden corner of the northeast Minneapolis cafe and market Vivir, Escondido is a reservations-recommended lounge devoted to all things agave. A vast menu of spirits derived from the Mexican succulent can be experienced by the flight. It's an education.
To see more of our look back at Minnesota's food scene in 2021, including our Restaurant of the Year, best dining moments, beloved neighborhood spots and more, use the drop-down navigation bar at the top of this page.